28 Oct 2014

Ibrahim appealing sodomy conviction

8:57 pm on 28 October 2014

A court in Malaysia is hearing a final appeal filed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim against his sodomy conviction.

Anwar Ibrahim on his way into court.

Anwar Ibrahim on his way into court. Photo: AFP

Mr Anwar was accused of sodomising a male aide in 2008. Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia but few people are ever prosecuted.

The popular politician was sentenced to five years in jail in March after an earlier acquittal was overturned.

He said the case was a move by the ruling coalition to prevent him from participating in politics.

BBC Malaysia correspondent Jennifer Pak said hundreds of Mr Anwar's supporters had gathered in front of the court house, in the administrative capital Putrajaya to protest, calling for justice.

Mr Anwar was widely seen as the only man who can break the governing coalition's dominance in Malaysia, she said.

On Wednesday, before proceedings began Mr Anwar said if there was "judicial independence in the country" he would be freed, the Associated Press reported.

If found guilty, the 67-year-old would face prison and would be barred from running for office for five years from the day he was released from jail.

That would mean he would be unable to contest the next general election, which must be held by 2018.

A decision from the court is expected on Thursday.